Butterflies in Time
This cover looks really bland and rushed. It takes the most basic process to let us know they're meeting Julius Caesar, and everything looks very loose and lumpy compared to the interior art by the same artist. Although in the interior art, Johnny Storm tends to look a bit off, especially with his hair eerily matching Franklin's.
I'm really starting to feel let down by Fantastic Four. We were promised a journey that would defy comprehension, and so far all we've gotten are some basic science fiction tropes and a time travel story to a very often-visited time period. Ok, this Julius Caesar adventure has a brilliantly unique twist, but the overall tone is fairly lackluster, especially since the story feels a bit rushed. And what happened to Valeria? When did she become a completely normal little girl? Where did her massive genius and playfully devious attitude? Valeria and Franklin seem to have shifted drastically from their portrayal in Hickman's run, and have been boiled down to generic normal children.
As much as Fraction's portrayal of the children bugs me, I have to admit he seems to have completely nailed Mr. and Mrs. Richards. They have one of those weird dysfunctional relationships that actually manages to work, because they both know deep down that these fights are going to spring up from time to time, and it allows them to work through them faster than most couples, and really get back to being a team in the face of death. It kind of further negates Reed's already odd monologue from the end of the previous issue, but to see them use this hurdle to make their marriage stronger was pretty heartwarming.
The main plot of this issue takes some bizarre and intriguing twists and turns, with a clever cliffhanger of sorts at the end, but the pace at which it weaves through the plot is a little off. The huge revelation about Julius Caesar was crazy, but after that events just transpired almost at the speed of a montage. Even the intriguing moments, like the ominous moment with The Thing is marred by the nagging question of WHERE THE HECK DID THE ROMAN GET THAT VOLCANO BEAST THING!? And why did nobody question it!? Yes, it's not less crazy than the Caesar revelation, but it's not explained by that explanation.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
This issue wasn't quite as off as the previous one, but it still just isn't up to the standards I've come to expect. Despite the crazy twist, this adventure feels far too ordinary for the journey we were promised, and the overall pacing of this issue has all sorts of holes in it. But I have to admit that the underlying continuous story is still brilliant and well executed.